Government’s Inter-Ministerial Committee on illegal Mining, on Friday, ended the vetting of some 907 small-scale miners across the country.
The exercise, which began on November 26, forms part of efforts to sanitize the country’s mining industry and ensure that persons engaged in the commercial activity do so in a responsible, environmentally-friendly and sustainable manner.
Persons who pass the vetting will be cleared to return to the mines when the government eventually lifts the ban on all forms of small-scale mining.
In a Citi News interview, Secretary of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Illegal Mining, Charles Bissue said the committee will produce a report by next week for onward submission to the presidency.
“We have vetted 907 miners and the team is putting a report together and hopefully by next week the report would be submitted to the Ministers for them to submit it to the Chief of Staff, who will submit it to the President. The exercise has been successful, because we have been able to at least some extent sanitize the number of licenses being used,” he said.
Following the widespread devastation of water resources and forest reserves as a result of the activities of illegal mining, government in January 2017 placed a ban on small-scale mining for six months.
The ban was however extended and has since remained in place until a substantive decision is taken.
Gov’t to lift ban on small-scale mining by December
Government gave the assurance that it may lift the ban on all forms of small-scale mining by the end of 2018.
Professor Frimpong Boateng, Chairman of the Inter-ministerial Task-force Against Illegal Mining, who spoke on Citi TV’s CNR, was optimistic that small-scale miners would be able to return to work by December.
“We need to go through the process; then maybe after three weeks or a month, we will be able to know the exact date because we were supposed to have started on the 8th of August… and we have lost eight days.”
“So that is why if we had given a date last week, it would have been wrong, so we want to be very careful not to disappoint them, but definitely they will be able to go to work before Christmas,” he stated.
The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) however warned the government against lifting the ban anytime soon.
It said the country’s water bodies and environment are still in a bad state due to the devastating effects of illegal small-scale mining still ongoing in some parts of the country.
According to the CSIR, lifting the ban will only worsen the situation of the country’s water bodies and land resources.
The Chief Research Scientist at CSIR Water Research Institute, Dr. Kankam Yeboah, said the polluted water bodies must be given enough time to get back to their natural state.
“Educate the public to see the need to stop. I won’t do that as long as we still find the recalcitrant ones doing that illegal mining. You can’t just lift it and say that is the end. Regeneration of this water and putting them right again is not an overnight process…. Let’s say you stop galamsey today, within 2 years. Once you stop, the natural system takes care of itself,” he said.
By: Farida Yusif | citinewsroom.com | Ghana